Definition of shelf
1a : a thin flat usually long and narrow piece of material (such as wood) fastened horizontally (as on a wall) at a distance from the floor to hold objectsb : one of several similar pieces in a closet, bookcase, or similar structurec : the contents of a shelf the author of a shelf of best sellers
2 : something resembling a shelf in form or position: such asa : a sandbank or ledge of rocks usually partially submergedb : a flat projecting layer of rockc : the submerged gradually sloping border of a continent or island : continental shelf
shelffulplay \ˈshelf-ˌfu̇l\ noun
shelflikeplay \ˈshelf-ˌlīk\ adjective
off the shelf
: available from stock : not made to order off the shelf equipment
on the shelf
: in a state of inactivity or uselessness
Examples of shelf in a Sentence
Put the vase on the shelf.
the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet
Will you get that book down off the shelf?
We don't have much shelf space.
Recent Examples of shelf from the Web
After a few years of hit-or-miss formulas—and some seriously crunchy packaging—natural beauty products have finally found their spot on the shelf.
Carlos Rodon spent the better part of the first half on the shelf, as well.
Below the shelf is a narrower seating ledge for sipping cocktails.
There are fears, however, that the shelf could in future share the fate of its neighbour, Larsen B, which disintegrated entirely within a few weeks in 2002.
Paleontology isn’t ripping fossils out of the ground and putting them on a shelf.
Farther south, in modern-day Israel and Jordan, for example, people living before, during, and after Göbekli Tepe’s time were removing the skulls from skeletons and setting them apart in special burial caches or on shelves.
While this might sound high-brow (and unnecessarily expensive), Dr. Burke swears that the top-shelf stuff is filtered the most to remove impurities and toxins, which can make your hangover less severe.
Among shelves and stacks, there is a set of mysterious, solid-wooden heads.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shelf.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Origin and Etymology of shelf
Middle English, probably from Old English scylfe; akin to Old Norse hlīthskjalf Odin's seat
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
SHELF Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of shelf for English Language Learners
: a flat board which is attached to a wall, frame, etc., and on which objects can be placed
geology : a flat area of rock, sand, etc., especially underwater
SHELF Defined for Kids
Definition of shelf for Students
1 : a flat piece (as of wood or metal) set above a floor (as on a wall or in a bookcase) to hold things
2 : a flat area (as of rock)
Seen and Heard
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